Horror Lovers, Adrenaline Junkies, and other People Who Like Being Scared
The chatter of cicadas echoed across the countryside as the four of us left the safety of a van to inspect the O'Hair House on the outskirts of Putnam County, Indiana. To anyone unfamiliar with the country at night, every last detail would have raised hairs and heartbeats, but for us it was just another late night in the middle of nowhere.
No sooner than we reached the front porch of the O'Hair House, Miller rushed ahead and tripped over some kind of rubber cable blocking the doorway. On cue, dogs crashed against the storm door, scraping, barking, and howling at us to get away. Miller and Kelly took note and raced for the van, while Lela and I continued on.
Lela sprinted up to a side window and snapped a photo of the inside. As soon as we heard the dogs follow us over, we both rushed back to meet the others at the van.
But it wasn't the dogs that alarmed us.
Once we collected ourselves and caught our breaths, Lela flashed on the LED screen of digital camera to review the picture of the O'Hair House, and we couldn't believe what we saw.
It was an entire "apparition" of a man's torso.
The reason I tell this story isn't the brag about some kind of ghost encounter. In fact, I wouldn't blame you for doubting any of it. It's a true event - only the names have been changed - but the apparition could have been caused by any number of variables. However, what's important about the story is the joy that my friends, as well as myself, felt from trying to investigate haunted locations and track down ghosties.
In fact, for most of my life, I have been a fan of the unexplained. A horror-lover. An adrenaline-junkie (on a very low-budget ATM, unfortunately). For me, I love the idea of being scared. But for others, being terrified voluntarily sounds just plain stupid. So, why is that?
Nothing can be more polarizing that asking a group of people to go see a horror movie. It is likely a portion of the group will become excited about the prospect, while the others will have no interest and then try to deflect by calling out campy tropes of the genre.
What does it say about you if you vote yay?
Well, there are pros and cons to loving horror. Today, we're starting with what might be wrong with you if you like to be scared (and hey, I love horror, too.)
A study was conducted on over 200 college students back in 2000 to analyze gender role traditionality in Media Psychology. The study asked undergraduate students to recall a date night scenario involving a horror movie and to recount their interactions. By large, horror movies seemed to encourage men and women to react in "stereotypical ways." (Please, do not make me be the one to provide the example. You know what is.)
While men and women had slightly different reactions to the horror films - men enjoyed them more often - both genders shared commonalities in the empathy department. Those who held stronger connections with the characters, often reported negative reactions to horror movies, such as loss of sleep, anxiety, and distress.
If you love a horror film, it does not necessarily mean you lack empathy. If you watch your favorite character meet their demise and feel absolutely nothing but a thrill from the sight of such an unfortunate act, then you might lack empathy.
While this argument doesn't come without controversy, many researches agree that you can get all jacked up from watching a scary movie.
What happens here is all biology and it's all awesome. Some researchers believe that certain films (as well as other media) can pump up the sympathetic nervous system, which then causes your body to release opiate endorphins.
In 1985, psychologist Marvin Zuckerman and Patrick Litle asked a set of over 300 undergraduate students to provide their favorite movies, and then they compared them to their personality traits. Unfortunately, the more intense the films, the more intense the personalities. The students who tended to enjoy higher octane action and horror films were more likely to attend autopsies and watch car accidents.
In 1998, psephologists discovered children who liked more violent cartoons were the same children described as aggressive and excitable by their teachers.
Similar to the argument that violent media can lead to violent behavior, many studies over the years have suggest individuals with more aggressive personalities seek out more aggressive media. If you are a horror buff, you might be a little rougher around the edges then you realize. Or perhaps you just have a little stress to let out.
That's it for now on the cons of being a horror lover. You can also look these as the cons of being an adrenaline junkie or thrill-seeker - whatever it is that gets you scared. Next time, we'll pick up on the pros of enjoying of being scared, such as the fact it makes you more attractive.